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Alzheimer Society Campaign Tackles Stigma Of Dementia

See me, not my disease. Let's talk about dementia .

TORONTO, Jan. 2, 2013 /CNW/ - Imagine a close friend tells you she has dementia. Would you avoid her for fear of being embarrassed by what she might say or do? According to a recent poll by Alzheimer's Disease International, 40 per cent of people with dementia reported they had been avoided or treated differently after diagnosis. It's no surprise, then, that one in four respondents cited stigma as a reason to conceal their diagnosis.

That's why, this January during Alzheimer Awareness Month, the Alzheimer Society is launching a nation-wide campaign called " See me, not my disease. Let's talk about dementia."  Its goal is to address myths about the disease, shift attitudes and make it easier to talk about dementia. Canadians are also invited to test their attitudes and perceptions in an online quiz at the Society's website, www.alzheimer.ca/letstalkaboutdementia

Stereotypes and misinformation are what prevent people with dementia from getting the help they need and stop others from taking the disease seriously. Dementia is more than having the occasional 'senior moment' or losing your keys. The truth is it's a progressive degenerative brain disorder that affects each person differently. It's fatal and there is no cure.

"Dementia really challenges the values we hold as a society and what it means to be human," says Mary Schulz, Director of Education at the Alzheimer Society of Canada. "We need to stop avoiding this disease and rethink how we interact with people with dementia. Only by understanding the disease and talking more openly about it, can we face our own fears and support individuals and families living with dementia."

Today, 747,000 Canadians have dementia. While dementia can affect people as young as 40, the risk doubles every five years after 65.

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